Monday, July 05, 2021


Labor’s assistant spokesman for government services, Kimberley Kitching, said Australians don’t mind public servants being paid fairly but the top of the public service had become “Morrison’s Millionaires’ Factory”.

Australia’s domestic spy boss Mike Burgess’ 2020 salary is almost $586,000, including superannuation and long service leave entitlements. That is almost double that of both the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency director and FBI boss, and well ahead of the British government’s intelligence chiefs at MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.

Herbert Prochnow, an American banking executive and noted toastmaster, once described a public servant as someone who hires someone to do the work that they were hired to do. Former British prime minister Tony Blair thought that bureaucracy was great at managing things but not great at changing things.

Amid a new debate over public sector pay, analysis from The Sydney Morning Heraldand The Age has found Australia’s top bureaucrats are earning vastly more on average than their international counterparts, with more than 25 of the nation’s senior public officials paid more than $1 million last year.

Public sector wages have come into sharp focus as the nation’s economy recovers from a coronavirus-induced recession and Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe encourages federal and state governments to pay their civil servants more, to put more upward pressure on private employers to give larger pay rises.

Australia’s senior public servants earn top dollar compared to international counterparts

The lawyer says he can't get his dog to not eat his sock but trump gets his dogs to go to jail for him

Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg Charged With Tax Fraud

The NSW Department of Customer Service's Behavioural Insights Unit approaches compliance and corruption by observing and reacting to the..

Cnn-Video: See Trump's Response To The Charges Against His Company

IR-2021-134, IRS Releases Data Book For Fiscal 2020 Describing Agency’s Activities During Pandemic (June 24, 2021)

Currencies are not memes that only have value because the governments say they do

Sometimes it’s possible to simplify something too much. More than a decade ago Ben Bernanke, then chair of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes, the television show that important Americans call when they have important things to say. 

Bernanke was explaining how the Fed had responded to the financial crisis. When he got to the asset purchase programmes, the host asked whether the Fed was spending taxpayers’ money. 

“It’s not tax money,” Bernanke said. “The banks have accounts with the Fed, much the same way that you have an account in a commercial bank. So to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have at the Fed.” The host asked him whether the Fed had been printing money. “Well,” said Bernanke, “effectively.” 

He wasn’t wrong, of course. He’s Ben Bernanke. You might disagree with his policy choices, but he certainly knows how money is created. 

That quote from 60 Minutes, though, still comes up, often, more than a decade later. When Bernanke simplified what the Fed does, he confirmed for a lot of people the deeply mistaken idea that the Fed simply magics up dollars out of nothing and then, by fiat, says “There. That’s money.” 

There’s a problem with the word “fiat.” We use it to describe our current monetary system. Then we teach undergraduates that the word comes from the Italian for decree, or edict. We tell them that fiat money is a social convention. It has value because the government says it does, and everyone agrees. Cameron Winklevoss, co-founder of the crypto exchange Gemini, says that “all money is a meme.” That’s what he was taught at Harvard while he was doing the other thing he’s famous for. 

This is unfortunately not at all how money works. The first description I could find of money as “fiat” comes from John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher, in Principles of Political Economy. Mill proposed a hypothetical: suppose a government began paying salaries in a paper money that couldn’t be converted on demand into silver or gold. The value of that money, he wrote, “would depend on the fiat of the authority”. 

Well, yeah. If the US Department of the Treasury were to print up carnival tickets, spend them into the economy and call them dollars, the value of those dollars would depend on the fiat of Congress. But that’s not what the Treasury does, and that’s not what a dollar is. 

If you live in the US, the dollars you use most often in your daily life are bank dollars. Your bank creates them when it loans you money, then deposits them in your account. 

Bank dollars don’t have value just because your bank says they do. Your bank has regulators poking into its books, to make sure those loans are sound assets with decent returns. And your bank pays premiums to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to guarantee your deposits in case it fails anyway. If bank dollars are just a social convention — a meme — then your mortgage is just a meme, too. 

Now, take the Fed. It’s just a special bank. Like Bernanke said, commercial banks have deposit accounts at the Fed. When the Fed lends them money, it marks up their accounts with dollars we call reserves. And, just like when the commercial banks lend you money, those reserves are a liability for the Fed. But there’s a crucial part of the process that didn’t make it into 60 Minutes: when the Fed marks up those accounts, it’s also buying assets. It swaps, one for one: reserves for assets. 

When we say the Fed is printing money, we imply that there was nothing, and now there is something. Ta da! But again, that’s not at all what happens. The Fed has to buy something. Usually it’s a Treasury bill, but in an emergency it can be a more questionable asset. Then the Fed credits back reserves. To believe those reserves are just a meme, you have to believe the assets are just a meme. But they aren’t. Don’t take my word for it. The Fed’s assets provide a return, every year, lean years and fat years, without fail.

OK. Now let’s do the Department of the Treasury. It has an account at the Fed, too, but it cannot just magic dollars out of its account. The Treasury can put dollars in its account collecting taxes, or by selling Treasury bills. There is no fiat, no decree. There is no money printer, anywhere. It’s all transactions on a balance sheet, assets for liabilities. 

Now: you may believe that all those mortgages and credit card loans are meaningless assets. You may believe the US government will not be able to collect enough taxes to roll over those Treasury bills. If you are right, then yes, the dollar has no value. But we’re still not talking about trusting anyone’s fiat. We’re talking about credit analysis. So, please: let’s stop calling it fiat money. Let’s start calling it what it is: credit money. 

Most widows of the Middle Ages have vanished into obscurity. But some of them shaped art history  Her Story and  history 

How To Tell If You’re Part Of A Cult

It is language that can best clue us in as to whether an organization we have joined is a cult or is at least engaging in cultlike behavior to extract resources out of its members. – The New Republic

Lorraine Eden (Texas A&M), Taxing the Top 100: U.S. Estimates of Winners and Losers From Pillar One Amount A:

The October 2020 Pillar One proposal by the OECD/Inclusive Framework (IF) is designed to shift some portion of the global pre-tax profits of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in automated digital services (ADS) and consumer-facing businesses (CFB) to Market jurisdictions where ADS and CFB revenues are generated. In April 2021, the U.S. government proposed that the OECD/IF reframe Amount A, broadening its industry scope from ADS and CFB to all industries and limiting the number of in-scope businesses to the world’s 100 largest and most profitable MNEs. How would changing the scope of Amount A from ADS and CFB to the top 100 global MNEs affect the likely winner and loser status of MNEs, industries and tax jurisdictions from Amount A?

Kevin Brown (Morrison & Foerster, Boston), Tax the Moon That the Earth May Prosper: How to Tax Lunar Occupation, 102 Tax Notes Int'l 877 (May 17, 2021):

Tax Notes Int'lThis author believes that humankind’s exploitation of outer space, beginning with the moon, should be subject to a minimal tax at the global level. This tax should be collected by a nongovernmental organization with the resulting revenue used to fund solutions to global problems, such as supporting the WHO’s effort to guarantee that everyone has access to basic healthcare. If outer space is the shared heritage of humankind, then its economic development should ensure the welfare of all people. Notably, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, recently released a letter signed by several world leaders calling for global coordination to “build a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations” from threats like COVID-19. As Tedros’s initiative moves ahead, many will ask how to pay for it, and this article offers a novel, practical solution.

THAT ’70S SHOW: Now Prices Are Really Soaring: June Rent Jump Is Biggest On Record. “While soaring housing costs had put homeownership out of reach for most Americans, rents had been relatively tame for much of 2020. But in recent months, rents have also soared as vaccines fuel optimism about a rebound from the pandemic, and a reversal in the city-to-suburbs exodus. The increases, as Bloomberg so eloquently puts it, ‘may add to concerns about inflation pressures.

HMM: Who Turned on Trump?! Charging Docs Mention Mysterious ‘Unindicted Co-Conspirator 1.’